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Lasting, budget phone with notification light and compass

Discussion in 'Mobile Phones & Tablets' started by MoistVonLipwig, Aug 5, 2017.

  1. MoistVonLipwig

    Associate

    Joined: Aug 5, 2017

    Posts: 10

    I really only need a basic phone - in descending order, it's mostly for calls, texts, maps/satnav, emails (including viewing attachments), web browsing and Skype. No need for something all-singing, all-dancing and pricey, right, particularly since I make almost zero use of the camera? My previous low-end phones served me well while they lasted, but it's been a few years since I was in the market, and now I'm confused why several features I've become reliant on, and thought of as pretty basic and unexceptional, don't seem to be standard anymore!

    I'd also like a phone to last a good few years, without getting frustrated over storage running out, multitasking giving up, or a chronic lack of updates. The minimum specs for the kind of future-proofing I want are probably 3 GB memory, 32 GB storage and a comparable processor. That's nothing extravagant and there are phones in the £150-250 range that cater for this, but I would like a compass (I do a fair bit of walking, don't want to get half-way down the street before the GPS figures out my orientation is the wrong way) and really badly need a notification light (my phone has to spend a lot of time sitting on my desk on silent, but I want a quick way of spotting missed calls or texts without having to fiddle with it every 10 minutes just to check).

    Most reviewers' go-to recommendation in this specs/price bracket is the Moto G5 or Moto G5 Plus, yet these both lack compass (at least in the UK) and notification light. Some people are excited about the new Nokia 6, which does seem to have a compass, but again the UK version has no notification light. Have these become high-end features, perhaps associated with business use, or just gone out of fashion? Do any suitable competitor models (or variants like the new G5S/G5S+) have these features? Finding information on the internet has been a bit of a pain, review sites and even sites selling them often don't list these features, plus specs found online vary so much between countries.

    (FWIW I'm also concerned that the Moto G5 and Nokia 6 look oddly underpowered with a Snapdragon 430 - the Snapdragon 625 in the G5+ looks rather more in line with the rest of the specs - and they might be feeling their age in a few years' time. I'm also wary of manufacturers who bloat their OS since the chances of it being kept up to date in 2 or 3 years are so low - but even with near-stock Android, Lenovo have developed an awful reputation for providing basic security updates to Motorola-branded phones, whereas HMD have appeared pretty committed to updating their Nokia-branded phones.)
     
  2. Dumbnub

    Gangster

    Joined: Aug 2, 2016

    Posts: 125

    huawei p8 lite (2017)? £150 + £10 topup from vodafone. Probably needs to be unlocked, or for £180 + £10 buy it unlocked from giffgaff. Pros: 3GB, compass, kirin 655 (comparable to SD625). Cons: only 16GB, non-stock android. I don't know for sure if it has a notification LED but this site says that it does.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2017
  3. MoistVonLipwig

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    Joined: Aug 5, 2017

    Posts: 10

    Cheers, nice suggestion and critique for a series I hadn't considered at all. I reckon 16 GB is life-limiting (one review reckons only 9 GB is free, and how much will be left once even the basic apps have been bloated by a couple of years of updates?) but stepping up a price point, looks like the Huawei P10 Lite has notification light and compass, plus a slightly better Kirin 658, 4 GB memory and much healthier 32 GB storage. Though according to reviews, 12 GB of that is already used up by the time you get the phone, mostly by EMUI!

    Am likely to get my phone on contract, so for price comparison Moto G5 Plus and Nokia 6 are Carphone Warehouse exclusives, and CW offer the same deals on minutes/data on those phones as the P10 Lite. Keen to avoid CW because of their no-tethering policy, so glad to see that P10 Lite isn't another of their exclusives, but interesting they put all three phones at the same bracket - thought they might price the P10 Lite higher.

    Common reviewers' criticism of the P10 Lite is no Gorilla Glass or equivalent. Several reports of it being scratched up within a week or so of testing, which isn't great if I want longevity, especially combined with a slippery-smooth back! Hopefully a problem resolvable by investing in case / screen protector, but a disappointing omission.

    I should probably still check if there is something in Huawei's "Honor" series that would do for me. What I thought would be my simple desire for compass/LED notifier seems to rule out swathes of the budget-to-midrange market: Moto C/E/G series, Samsung J/A series, the whole raft of Nokias...
     
  4. Dumbnub

    Gangster

    Joined: Aug 2, 2016

    Posts: 125

    The honor 9 is a very nice phone imo. I think it's exclusive to the 3 network in the UK. It starts at £19 a month but I don't think it allows tethering or at least not via hotspot. I don't know if using usb tethering would work. The cheapest plan to allow hotspot tethering is £14.50 for six months and £29 for 18. link
     
  5. Dumbnub

    Gangster

    Joined: Aug 2, 2016

    Posts: 125

    If you don't mind a used phone and not going for a contract phone, there's the moto z play for about £250 + £6 postage from amazon.de (very good condition) (link).

    Pro's: SD625, 3GB ram, 32GB storage, compass, almost stock android, 3510 mAh battery, AMOLED screen, font facing speakers, fast charging, moto mods, nfc. Cons: only 23GB available, no notification led but instead it has "Moto Display" . Quote: "Moto phones don't have notification lights. Instead, a notification will flash on your screen, and, if you like, sound a tone.".

    Good video reviews of the moto z play (imo) link1 & link2. I was thinking about buying this phone a while back and I thought these two reviews were the best, but the second one talks about the camera moto mod too.

    Also, ages ago I bought a samsung s3 from amazon.de but although I picked the language as english, the samsung apps remained in german. I don't know how it works on this phone.

    edit. to buy from amazon.de you have to set up a german amazon account AFAIK.
     
  6. MoistVonLipwig

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    Joined: Aug 5, 2017

    Posts: 10

    Thanks, very helpful again - that averages to £25.38 for 4 GB data, which is the minimum you can get with personal hotspot. And £28.88 gets you to 12 GB data. Honor 9 reviews look very good. Some state no Gorilla Glass which put me off, but others state it's Gorilla Glass 3 (which on investigation seems to be the case). With 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, it definitely fulfills my future-proofing hopes! And has notification LED and compass.

    I suppose it's more mid-range than a "budget" phone, but taking into account Three's offer of 50% off for six months, the contract prices actually come out cheaper than for equivalent data/minutes, but no tethering, for a Nokia 6 or Moto G5 Plus with Carphone Warehouse. The plain, i.e. not "plus", Moto G5 looks cheapest (though I checked only providers allowing tethering) with Tesco Mobile: 4 GB of data at £20.50 (about a fiver cheaper) and 12 GB at £28.50 (basically the same). And that's a considerably worse phone.

    Obviously the price differential shows up more clearly if you just buy the phone outright then pay for a SIM-only deal, but as I'm self-employed and this is my business phone, a contract is more convenient. A contract might even be better value, at least for the higher data - Honor 9 costs £360+ so spread over 24 months, that's at least £15/month. Could the remaining £13.88/month buy you a SIM-only deal with 12 GB data and tethering? Or to beat the 4 GB price, you'd need to find a SIM-only deal costing under £10.38/month - doable but not by much. So neither looks like a rip-off contract, as long as there's a need for all that data. (Personally I wouldn't mind it - working from home, needing to take video calls, it's nice to know you've got back-up if there's a broadband issue. Fire at the exchange caused me all kinds of stress a few weeks back! But for someone who only ever gets through half a gig a month, 4 or 12 GB would be a bit extravagant.)
     
  7. MoistVonLipwig

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    Joined: Aug 5, 2017

    Posts: 10

    As a non-contract option, this caught my eye:

    http://second-handphones.com/all-ha...-32gb-white-unlocked-refurbished-grade-a.html

    A bunch of refurbished (apparently grade A+ and with one-year warranty - though what either of those are worth with this seller I don't know) P10 lites going for £210. That's around £50 off the price of a new one, about the cost of a new Nokia 6, and between the cost of a Moto G5 and G5 plus.
     
  8. Stringy

    Mobster

    Joined: Aug 2, 2004

    Posts: 4,235

    Location: The moon

    Pretty good phone, I picked one up on a decent pay monthly deal. Coming from a history of flagships (Nexus 6, HTC One M7, Galaxy S2) and I haven't been disappointed by it after a month of use.

    Battery life is good as is general performance, I think the 4GB of RAM will help a lot too. Better performance than the mid-range poster boy the Moto G5, and similar performance to Snapdragon 625 phones (although the GPU isn't as good). I replaced the launcher with Nova (couldn't get on with EMUI) but for the most part the Android 7.0 EMUI 5.1 is pretty good. Unsure whether or not it will get many official updates though....
     
  9. Dumbnub

    Gangster

    Joined: Aug 2, 2016

    Posts: 125


    I've not heard of them but the Trust Pilot reviews are good. I think it's a good phone and price. I would be tempted myself if I were looking.
     
  10. MoistVonLipwig

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    Joined: Aug 5, 2017

    Posts: 10

    Given the phone was only released in March, the high grade, and the fact they've got a whole bunch in stock, I'm presuming these are most likely to be very early returns (perhaps within a fortnight or so) with negligible use. I have been known to chance my arm buying refurbs a year or two old, but only for about £50 or so, and only at the higher grades, because anything more felt a bit risky. If they're probably near-enough to new, though, it gets a lot more interesting.
     
  11. Dumbnub

    Gangster

    Joined: Aug 2, 2016

    Posts: 125

    I agree and the battery should be in excellent condition. I think as long as the company is good, which it appears to be, then buying a high grade new model makes a lot of sense.
     
  12. MoistVonLipwig

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    Joined: Aug 5, 2017

    Posts: 10

    Opted for an Honor 9 in the end - more mid-range than budget, and probably a bit of overkill for what I need, but it's a very pleasant phone to use. To my surprise I actually rather enjoy EMUI 5.1 - though I appreciate that a more stock experience might be necessary, though not necessarily a guarantee, if you want regular updates. I ran the calculations through a spreadsheet and decided that it was probably a better value option, provided I could get an extra year or more of life out of it, compared to the phones £100-150 cheaper. You're definitely getting a nice bit of kit for the money. But the sums only worked out in its favour because I wanted a lot of data in my package - those kind of contract prices with 3 were actually cheaper than for some of its cheaper rivals exclusive to other retailers, whereas opting for a minimal package would have given the more budget phones a big price advantage. Also, a contract came out well compared to buying outright then getting a SIM-only deal, even though the latter is probably better value usually.
     
  13. flibbage0

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    Joined: Jun 6, 2010

    Posts: 4,967

    What sort of deal did you end up getting?